Hearne: The American Royal’s Risky Run to KCK

feature1Did I miss something?

What happened to the usual hand wringing and teeth gnashing following the American Royal’s recent front page announcement in the Kansas City Star that what’s left of the once vaunted livestock and horse event is leaving Missouri for Kansas?

Anyone feeling light headed or bummed about Kansas City, Missouri’s  shocking loss?

Thought so.

Seriously, this may be the best news KCMO, Kemper Arena and the West Bottoms have had in 20 years.

Sure the Royal spent around 117 years there, morphing from a proud agricultural, civic institution to mere shadow of its proud past.

But so what?

Outside of its annual World Series of Barbecue – which has been getting smoked (pardon the pun) in recent years by Memphis – the Royal’s horse and livestock shows can’t draw flies…or better said, can only draw flies.

To think. not that long ago the powers that be at the American Royal tried to bully Kansas City and Missouri into dropping tens of millions of dollars into tearing down Kemper Arena and building them all new digs.

Amazingly, the pushovers at City Hall downtown managed to dodge the bullet.

That’s the good news…

The bad news is the limp-wrested politicians in KCK – the same geniuses who bailed out a failing T-Bones baseball team and rubber stamped Schlitterbahn water park’s deadly Verrückt  slide – have been conned into agreeing to help choke out about half of the $160 million to build the Royal a new complex near the Village West shopping center.

american_royal1“It’s a culmination of years of hard work, partnership and dedication of people who can see a vision for Kansas, for Kansas City and the American Royal,” said visionary Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

If you detected a hint of sarcasm in that last graph, extra points for being sleuthy.

How the Royal and Kansas plan to squander the $160 mill?

By building two separate arenas – one 5,000 to 8,000 capacity, another around 2,000 and a 300,000 square foot display, exhibition space and education center.

So how bummed is KCMO at losing the American Royal?

So not bummed that KC mayor Sly James barely stopped short of telling the Royal not to let the door hit them on the you-know-what on their way out of town.

The payoff to Wyandotte County and Kansas:

Would you believe 14 measly jobs?

So who’s gonna buy these so-called Star bonds and how in the world are they going to generate $80 million plus interest in sales tax revenue given that the Royal won’t be chipping in either the property or sales taxes needed to pay off the bonds?


Kansas is betting that businesses like hotels will “flock” to the new so-called district and choke out the revenue needed to retire the bonds. Just like all the hotels, restaurants and businesses that flocked to the stockyards the past 20 years.

In other words, fat chance.

This deal makes Brownback’s tax strategies for Kansas look good by comparison.

The $160 million question:

Can the handful of big shots backing the Royal’s risky plan pull it off?

Don’t hold your breath!

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8 Responses to Hearne: The American Royal’s Risky Run to KCK

  1. Goose13 says:

    Maybe they are trying to get the FFA back? Maybe?

  2. JH Vaughan says:

    These kinds of agriculture-oriented venues are doing very well in other markets where they have modern FACILITIES and good MANAGEMENT. In 2016, a similar horse and livestock show in DENVER attracted 675,000 people in attendance. New facilities in FT. WORTH have made this annual event a must-see again. And a similar show in nearby DALLAS brought in $45-(M) in revenue. These major cities must have found the formula. Kansas City, Kansas can, too! Incidentally, the Village West Development Zone paid off its STAR Bonds a decade ahead of schedule.

    • Stomper says:

      Good comments JH.

      Hearne brings up good points and he may end up being completely correct in what he says here but I do think he fails to take a bit broader overview and acknowledge the other side of government spending to assist projects. You mentioned this in the peripheral financial benefits realized by Denver and Dallas. To say the only benefit to Wyandotte County and Kansas is 14 measly jobs is unfair.

      Again, it is far too early to make an educated analysis of the wisdom of this move by the “limp wristed” politicans of KCK but owners of other businesses as well as property owners around this area may not share Hearne’s view.

      If I didn’t know better I might think Jack Cashill wrote this piece.

    • Jack Springer says:

      How many times have they gone bankrupt?

  3. Kyle R says:

    Hearne – where’s your data on Memphis “smoking” the AR BBQ?

  4. Jack Springer says:

    What’s the American Royal … never heard of it.

  5. Nick says:

    Whole article OBE: Jack Daniels’s Invitational rocks, American Royal/NASCARR subsidy (including subsidies) is third tier BS; who cares?

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